UPDATE: It would "take a miracle" for the Braves to sign Johnny Damon

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UPDATE: OK, Boras may need to find another mystery team, because MLB.com’s Mark Bowman is throwing cold water on the idea that the Braves are really interested in the guy:

From what I can gather, the Braves would become players in the Damon
sweepstakes if his price drops to somewhere in the neighborhood of $1-2
million. In other words, it’s not going to happen.  Or as
one Major League source said, “it would take a miracle” for (the
Braves) to sign Damon.

Your move, Heyman.

8:00 A.M. Jon Heyman tweets that the Tigers “could be in play” for Johnny Damon.  This comes a few hours after we learned that the Braves are still interested.

If this rumor had come two days ago I would have said that it was typical Boras smokescreen. He needs a second team involved, real or imagined, so that he can get the Braves to bid higher, and like clockwork comes some thin non-report about a second team courtesy of his alleged mouthpiece Heyman.

But then the Tigers signed Jose Valverde to ridiculous money yesterday. In light of that I think it’s safe to say that we really don’t know what’s motivating the Tigers these days, so yeah, I’d probably believe anything at this point.

Would it be a good fit?  Probably would actually.  As Heyman noted, Damon has always hit well in Tiger Stadium Comerica Park (sorry; I’m still in mourning) and with the DH, there’s a better chance to keep him fresh and play a more defensively-minded lineup when need be.

Really, though, if Damon has truly lowered his asking price as some have suggested, he might be a good fit any number of places. No one doubts he can still hit. The only problem before recently was that he thought he was worth eight figures a year for two or three years.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.